17-year-old Filipino student creates a working life-size BB-8 from household materials

There are fans who live and breathe Star Wars – they’ve seen all the movies and know and follow all the canons. They buy merchandise to further express their love for the saga, many probably have a collection of them.

And then there are those who make their own.

One such fan is Angelo Casimiro, an unassuming but brainy Physics student from De La Salle University in the Philippines. Although he says he wasn’t much of a Star Wars fan, not until he saw the latest one.

The 17-year-old has been making YouTube videos for almost 5 years now and has been building DIY gadgets and gizmos since he was just 4.

His latest project: a smartphone-controlled life-size BB-8 – exactly like the one in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – except he built it using household materials and Arduino circuitry.

17-year-old Angelo Casimiro creates a life-size, fully functional BB-8.

17-year-old Angelo Casimiro creates a life-size, fully functional BB-8.

“When I saw BB-8 in the movie, it was like love at first sight. He was just so adorable! BB8’s spherical design also intrigued me, how it worked,” Casimiro told GadgetMatch.

He used half a Christmas ball for the eye, a deodorant cap for the mic, an old router antenna for the antenna, and roll-on deodorant balls for BB-8’s mechanism. Everything cost him about $120 (approximately P5,700), cheaper than Sphero’s miniature BB-8 Droid.

It doesn’t have hologram capabilities and doesn’t respond to voice commands yet, but his version of BB-8 rolls, patrols, and makes droid sounds like its movie and Sphero counterparts.

He says anyone can make his own BB-8, if people would follow his tutorial carefully. He also posted the full written tutorial on instructables.com – something he’s been doing since he was 10.

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Planning the project came naturally to him as he already has a lot of experience in robotics. He is, in fact, a National Robotics champion. He has also competed in several international competitions including the Google Science Fair and the International Robotics Olympiad.

It was his grandfather who got him into electronics but he also comes from a family of scientists. His father is a medical doctor and his uncle is one of the known Filipino scientists today. They both helped add finishing touches to BB-8.

While the adorable droid is not as useful and practical as his other projects, the mechanism is there. He says it can also be used to create spherical vehicles. His ultimate dream is to mass manufacture a Filipino-made solar-powered car.

For now, he’s tweaking and working on improving his droid’s stability as it’s due to appear on TV soon.

He also still has more projects lined up for his channel, as well as some written tutorials: The DIY Bluetooth Boombox, The Portable Fridge Lunchbox, The Portaverter (220v power bank).

“Making something work is really rewarding! I also earn money from it. So far, BB8’s my favorite (project). I get the ideas from things around me. I’m just thankful God gave me a mind creative enough for the knowledge I have for making things,” he said.

All photos c/o Angelo Casimiro

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  • Terho Järvi January 25, 2016  

    Yeah, being able to move on command and play canned sounds hardly makes a “working” droid.

  • NateDion January 26, 2016  

    @Terho Jarvi – lol. The flavor you chose was salty. Nice one. 🙂 To see a 17 yr old have a go at this is inspiring. Also to see the support of his dad and family members on this project is great to see. It may not be a WORKING DROID, but its definitely something everybody would love to have. @Terho, not really seeing anything built from you, why don’t you follow his design for an empty shell and build the AI for bb8?

  • Mr. Yoso January 26, 2016  

    If have a lot of free time and tools i would love to do that.

  • Isabel Sy January 26, 2016  

    Wow! I bet this has left many people speechless, including me!

  • Chris Timbol January 29, 2016  

    Hey Kid! Where can we order? I’d love to own one.

  • Leni Villanueva January 31, 2016  

    Hats off to this kid’s scientific mind & his family’s support on this awesome project. This is what inventors are made of. I’m super proud that he is a Filipino too. Carry on kiddo!!!